Shortly after Donald Trump assumed the office of President of the United States, witches across the country began large-scale efforts to cast binding spells on him.
Amanda Yates Garcia, a self-identified witch known as the “Oracle of Los Angeles,” told Tucker Carlson of FOX News last week that the binding spells are not intended to harm Trump, but rather are intended to prevent him from causing any harm to others.
“Binding spells are a symbolic action used to harness the powers of the imagination and achieve a tangible result, eventually,” she said.
“I desire that Trump stop harming people that I care about and instituting policies that also harming me or people that I care about. My ultimate aim is that we protect the people that we love from having harm done to them,” she added.
But can witchcraft ever be used to accomplish something good?
Catholic theologian Dr. Anthony Lilles told CNA that even though the end result of witchcraft, magic or a spell may be some perceived good, these means are always an evil and are always below the dignity of the human person.
“Whether or not they’ve made a right judgment in the evil they want to prevent is one thing, but in Catholic moral tradition, we believe that you should never do evil that good might come from it,” he said.
“The way the logic of magic works, you attempt to control elements either above human nature or below human nature, and in your effort to manipulate or control these things, you always end up controlled by them. Whatever you give your heart to, that’s what has control over you,” Lilles said.
“As Christians we give our heart to God, and because he is completely above us, he is able to lift us up. When you give your heart to anything else, you always lower yourself, and so it’s very bad for the person who practices magic, because it always diminishes their own dignity,” he added.
Another problem with magic and spells is that they operate on the level of imagination, rather than in the world of reality and truth, Lilles said.
“Reason orients us to discern things according to the truth, to respond to situations such as they really truly are,” Lilles said.
With magic, “it’s trying to stand with your human dignity on something a little bit more whimsical, something that can’t support it. A fantasy can’t support the dignity and greatness of what it means to be a human being, only God can be that foundation. Only the truth is firm enough ground for the greatness of who each one of us is as a human being.”
For these reasons, witchcraft, magic and superstition have always been condemned practices in the Judeo-Christian tradition, which teaches that human beings must rely humbly and completely on the will of God, Lilles said.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church categorizes witchcraft and magic particularly as offenses against the First Commandment, which is: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.”
Witchcraft, magic and divination always stem from a desire to control and manipulate reality and situations in our lives, rather than humbly making our requests known to an all-powerful and all-loving God, Lilles said.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, in paragraph 2115, that while God may choose to reveal future events to human being through the prophets or the saints, a right Christian attitude is “putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it.”
The Catechism also notes that all forms of divination, magic and sorcery are to be rejected.
Anything “by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others — even if this were for the sake of restoring their health — are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons.” (CCC 2117)
Witchcraft can be attractive because of its grasp at power and control, especially in a culture that has forgotten God, Lilles noted.
“In a culture that no longer knows God, that has forgotten to pray, that doesn’t have confidence in humility before the creator and redeemer of the world, there will be a spiritual vacuum, and nature abhors vacuums,” he said.
“So turning to the occult, turning to magic, turning to all kinds of practices that are beneath our dignity is something that we will see people more and more inclined to do as they attempt to fill that vacuum, a vacuum that only God can fulfill in a satisfactory way.”
But that shouldn’t overly worry Christians with a proper understanding of magic and divination. Lilles said that Christians should not dismiss the practices of magic or divination as fantasy or as having no power, but at the same time, they can rest in knowing that their God is more powerful than any of these practices.
“The access to the very heart of God, which is ours by faith, far exceeds any magical power that someone might have,” he said.
“The creator of heaven and earth has implicated himself in our lives and in our own personal plights, and he is able to accomplish so much more than any power or force or element in this world below. All we have to do is make a humble cry and he is there, and that’s the truth we stand by.”
Father Vincent Lampert, an exorcist for the archdiocese of Indianapolis, told the National Catholic Register in February that the best antidote to magic and spells for Catholics is frequenting the sacraments.
“You can’t stop someone from placing a curse, but as a Christian, if you are you praying to God and going to him, the curse will have no power,” Father Lampert said.
Dr. Lilles echoed his sentiments.
“We don’t need to grasp at control or try to manipulate things, whether by magic or other means. What we need today is trust in God, and if we trust in him, everything is going to be ok. That’s why prayer is so important. Prayer is the school of trusting God.”